Darwin Muso Series: Ben Evolent, September 2019

Darwin Muso Series is a string of an indeterminate number of mini to medium to mega interviews with Darwin-based musicians and performing artists. Starting in September 2019, and we’ll see how many we can cover over the next weeks/months/years.

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Image courtesy of Ben Evolent Music

Ben Evolent

The Darwin Railway Club played host to the Darwin regional final of the Passport To Airlie competition in mid-September 2019.

Airlie Beach Festival of Music is held in November, however, in the lead-up, the organisers stage what is arguably* Australia’s biggest battle of the bands competition.

* If you can find a bigger one, I want it stuffed and mounted on display at ARIA or APRA headquarters, please.

Opening the batting for muso chats on the night (and for this series of interviews) was Josh Tarca of Ben Evolent.

(Just a quick Overheard At Passport To Airlie from my notes here. My mate leaned over as the third act came on and said, “I think the announcer said this band is from the Netherlands”.

Me: “No, the band’s name is ‘Ben Evolent’!)

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Ben Evolent performing in Passport To Airlie – Darwin at Darwin Railway Club

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Passport To Airlie – 2019 Darwin Heat (Darwin Railway Club)

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Image courtesy of Airlie Beach Festival of Music

Passport To Airlie – Darwin Heat (Darwin Railway Club)
Friday 13 September 2019, Darwin Railway Club

The Darwin Railway Club played host to the Darwin regional final of the Passport To Airlie competition in mid-September 2019.

Airlie Beach Festival of Music is held in November, however, in the lead-up, the organisers stage what is arguably Australia’s biggest battle of the bands competition.

And you’d have to argue very convincingly to beat this: regional finals in (take a deep breath): Darwin, Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Nimbin, Newcastle, Sydney, Illawarra, Melbourne and Adelaide.

It’s huge.

And budding musos are all vying for the chance to participate in the final at Airlie Beach in November.

As well as the performance opportunity in 2019, the overall winner gets to return to play the main stage the following year, receiving four nights’ accommodation, VIP main tent passes, a $1000 performance fee, and a spot on Music View TV (Cairns).

If you’re a regional muso aiming to get your music to a wider audience, it’s well worth a shot.

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Mensch, Monique in Australia, 2019

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Image courtesy of Mensch, Monique!

Folk On The Road

Mensch Monique!: Interview at Cobargo Folk Festival

Mensch, Monique! were in Australia earlier in 2019, playing gigs, house concerts and festivals. I caught up with Jule and Georg at Cobargo Folk Festival to find out how musical and family life had been treating them since the days of The Beez.

We spoke under a blazing sun, with welcome shade from the café marquee, perched
precariously on milk crates, sipping on ginger and lemongrass over cubed
ice (just brilliant on a baking hot day).

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Cobargo Folk Festival 2019

Bill Quinn: How long has Mensch, Monique! been going? What are you doing? How is it going?

Jule Schroder: Well, actually, Georg and me, we have been playing since 2007.

BQ: And how about music?

JS: Exactly! Playing music! (And we’ve been playing together longer than that!) But I was in a band called ‘The Beez’; for such a long time.

BQ: The Beez? Can you spell that? I’m not familiar with this band.

[If you can’t pick up the irony in that sentence, go to https://overheardproductions.com/?s=The+beez where you can read just one or two articles about this band by the authour over the past decade.]

JS: Tee Hahr Eeh Bee Double Eeh Zsedh. We were one Australian, one American, and two Germans.

BQ: And one of the Deutshes is now Australierin!

JS: That’s right. Deta got married to Rob a long time ago and now she’s got her spouse visa.

So, anyway, I was playing with The Beez, being busy. And there was just no point [after the birth of first child]. We couldn’t play gigs. Or we could, but it was just too hard.

So when I left The Beez in 2014, we said, “Let’s write some songs together”. And why not in German? And that’s what we did!

And it just takes a long time. You know, we’ve got two kids now. But we do it in our own tempo. Our own speed, you know? And we love it!

BQ: That’s very interesting that you do your songs in German, with English being the lingua franca for the world, the language that the majority of the planet understands. Tell me about when you perform in Germany. Is it 100% in German? Or do you mix it up a bit?

JS: We mix it up, but it’s really interesting because I talk to a lot of musician friends from Germany, and we came to the… schluss? … conclusion that we just HAVE to write songs in German because it’s our language.

It just doesn’t make sense that we only write songs in English, because that’s not our language.

And it’s a bit hard to sing in German, I must say. And what is really interesting for me is, because I write most of the melodies, I don’t think in German when I write the melodies. I can’t do that. It’s really interesting.

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Nina Lipscombe Art – ‘Witch’ Exhibition, Katoomba, March 2019

Image courtesy of Nina Lipscombe Art

Interview with Nina Lipscombe, Katoomba (NSW)

Arriving in the Blue Mountains for a few days at short notice, I consulted the font of all knowledge on what was going on in most regions (Facebook Events), and it turned up an exhibition in Katoomba called ‘Witch’ by local artist Nina Lipscombe.

The paranormal, mythological, and mystical aren’t things that normally pique my interest, but increasingly, I’ll have a look at subject matter outside of normal interests.

I’m glad I did.

‘Witch’ is an intriguing exploration of themes that may not exactly leap off the promo flyer or internet page. Speaking of our friend social media, a comment on the event page led to an exchange with the artist Nina Lipscombe, and a few days later, we were sitting in the leather-padded comfort of the guest lounge at the Carrington Hotel.

Bill Quinn: Just for my background, can you tell me a bit about how you came to be involved in art.

Nina Lipscombe: It’s an interesting story, because I didn’t do it very much in high school. I was doing theatre and television, but right after high school, I decided to dabble in it.

So I bought a kit from Hobby Lobby! It was Bill Alexander; he was the original happy painter. He’s the one that actually taught Bob Ross, with the happy clouds and the trees and everything else.

I bought this oil painting video, went to my garage, started painting, and I fell in love with it.

From then on, I started to make acrylics, water colours – mostly oils still – and it just kind of evolved from there.

I didn’t really get too involved with the arts scene in Tennessee at the time. But later in 2011, I moved to Argentina, and it kind of thrived from there.

I had exhibitions, I did workshops, I had private classes with really amazing teachers there, and I took off.

BQ: When I think about art around the world, Argentina definitely is on that list. I’m gonna say that the Tennessee art scene is not one that immediately springs to mind. What was that like?

NL: Yeah, you’re right about that! I’m not 100% sure; I never got highly involved with it. They do have some good art galleries, and really good art has come from Memphis. But the art scene there compared to Argentina and compared to here in the Blue Mountains is not quite as big.

Image courtesy of Nina Lipscombe Art

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Folk On The Road – 2019 Cobargo Folk Festival

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All images in this article by Bill Quinn

Folk On The Road

A highly irregular series reflecting on the wide, weird world of folk from the side of the stage

Back to Cobargo

Cobargo Folk Festival (CFF) in early March 2019 was a breath of fresh air for many who made their way to the beautiful green valleys and rolling hills just north of Bega, New South Wales. Not too far south of Narooma, and within a five iron of a heaven.

For this peripatetic scribe, it was a homecoming of sorts to the world of Australian folk festivals. A temporary one, as it transpired.

CFF came towards the end of a week or so in the Eurobodalla/Sapphire Coast region, just after the last member of my immediate family had left their home of almost twenty years in Bodalla, on an estate overlooking the quite stunning ranges of the Deua National Park.

But it was also a proper return to folk festivals after roughly five and a half years of continually wandering up and down the Australian east coast, from the deep south of New South Wales to the middling far north of Queensland.

(A handful of hours at Slacky Flat, Bulli in 2016 and 2019 doesn’t really count, does it?)

In those intervening years, the closest I’d come to our festival culture was random assorted gigs, and attendances, media, and volunteering/MC-ing at regional Queensland festivals in Cleveland, Stones Corner, and Boyne Island.

Though all events had minor folk elements, it was wonderful to be back among the campers, revellers, singers, musos, and so, so many familiar faces in a dedicated folk festival.

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Bill Quinn – Writer, Technical Writer, Sub-Editor, Contributor, Stringer, Advocate, Singer, Gypsy

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Bill Quinn and John Schumann (Redgum, John Schumann & The Vagabond Crew), Concert Stage, Woodford Folk Festival, December 2007

 

Contributor to Trad & Now magazine, Ducks Crossing Publications, 2006 – present

Contributor to Central Coast Newspapers, 2014.

Social media for Trad & Now, 2010 – present. Plus some admin and deliveries and cook and bottle-washer from time to time 😉

Festival and gig MC, 2006 – present

Radio presenter:

2008 to 2012 – Artsound FM 92.7/90.3FM/artsound.fm  (ACT)

2019 to 2020 – 104.1 Territory FM/territoryfm.com (NT)

2020 to present – Guest presenter via phone, 107.5FM 2EAR-FM/2EARFM.weebly.com Thursdays at 7.15pm AEST on Ian Traynor’s as yet unamed Thursday evening show (6-10pm)

Trivia quiz host, 1992 – 2012. Maybe again…

Peripatetic, interviewer, blatherer.

Gypsy. Effectively on the road since March 2013, however, currently in residence in Darwin, on the lands of the Larrakia Nation – the Salt Water people, and I pay respect to their elders past, present, and emerging.

These are lands that are called Australia that were never ceded by the traditional owners.

More details at www.OverheardProductions.com/About

 

 

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Bill Quinn, Bloke, v2011

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Bush Gothic – Looking Forward To A Festival In The Past, May 2018

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Image courtesy of Bush Gothic

Back in early February 2018, I interviewed Jenny Thomas from Melbourne-based folk band Bush Gothic, at a time when both of us were looking forward to attending the National Folk Festival in Canberra at Easter.

One of us got there. It wasn’t me.

It was to have been my first National since 2013, a year when I barely felt like I was there. Some nights I was tucked up in the tent by 10.30pm. It happens sometimes.

But of course, your worst day at a festival beats your best day doing many other things, so…

Events transpired that at the 2018 festival, instead of running around with various recording devices, filing copy for a small coterie of publications, I was roughly 400kms north on Lake Macquarie, providing various gardening and handyman services for a friend.

If you want to give your (or any) god a good laugh, make some plans!

Back to the subject at hand.

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Image courtesy of Bush Gothic

It’s been an absolute delight and pleasure to not only see Jenny Thomas and Jenny M. Thomas and Jenny Thomas and the System and the current incarnation of Bush Gothic perform, but also to interview Jenny several times, both here on the blog and also on radio in Canberra.

It’ll be great to see Bush Gothic perform again, down one of many dusty roads, but for now, here’s the interview we did in February. You’ll just have to put your headspace into some sort of cerebral TARDIS and pretend we are looking forward to another five or six days of magic at an upcoming National Folk Festival.

*** Sound file will be removed by the end of March 2020 ***

*** Sound file will be removed by the end of March 2020 ***

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Image courtesy of Bush Gothic

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Big Tobacco Company – Alternative Progressive Metal from Ohio, May 2018

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Image courtesy of Big Tobacco Company

When opportunity and access to the appropriate hardware of the trade allows, it’s great to go on a whim and speak with random bands and artists around the globe.

On one memorable occasion, I was connecting with an Icelandic MOR band (Dikta) and within the week their interview with me was on radio in Canberra. That led to some lovely chats with their management in LA as well.

Something similar happened in March 2018 with Bobby Ullmann from Big Tobacco Company on Twitter.

Big Tobacco Company come from Cincinnati, Ohio and their sound has the sort of raw, rough edge that you might expect coming from people who live on the southern edge of the cold and forbidding waters of Lake Erie. Or it would be if I got the name of the city right, because that’s Cleveland that’s on Lake Erie.

Ok, American geography is not a strong suit. I have Google Maps.

I’m just guessing that if you’re that far up the country, it’s going to be colder than balls – except for maybe a week or two in July and August.

High tech interview setup at St Marys Rugby League Club, NSW, Australia

Minimal research before our interview proved to be a bonus. Some might call this ‘laziness’; the glass half-full version is: ‘living in the moment, all spontaneous and shit’.

No, seriously, it’s been beneficial in the past to not know too much about the interviewee before diving into a stack of questions, guided more by their responses than any predetermined views about the music, the genre, and the band’s ethos.

And so it was with Bobby. Any and all surprised responses from the interviewer are genuine.

Big Tobacco Company have a new self-titled album out now, and you can listen to tracks and buy them individually or en masse via their website.

On a stunning, clear, late summer lunchtime in St Marys in far, far western Sydney, Australia I pulled up a pew in the rugby league club and had a great chat with Bobby.

*** Audio file will be removed by the end of March 2020 ***

*** Audio file will be removed by the end of March 2020 ***

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Image courtesy of Big Tobacco Company

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Coming To Blues On Broadbeach: Blues Arcadia, May 2017

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Image courtesy of Blues Arcadia

Blink twice, and in a two shakes of a lamb’s tail, it’ll be time for Blues On Broadbeach, that annual four day free festival of meaty and felafel-y good blues music in the heart of Queensland’s Gold Coast at (wait for it) Broadbeach.

About a dozen years ago or so it seems, Chris Harvey of Blues Arcadia sat down with Bill Quinn of Overheard Productions at Stones Corner Hotel to have a chat about the then way distant festival.

This interview is vividly memorable for several reasons, mostly because it was the day that, after giving Bowen and Ayr and surrounding areas a drenching and satching, Cyclone Debbie finally blew in to Brisbane.

We got our chat in just before the heavens opened.

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Herewith the chat.

Please excuse the references to the then upcoming Stones Corner Festival. That’s in the rear vision mirror now, and my colleague of sorts Ashley will be presenting her review in an upcoming edition of Trad and Now magazine.

I’d say see you at Blues on Broadbeach, but you’ll just have to have my share of the fun, and flood social media with pictures, videos (if allowed) and reviews.

Rock on!

Bill Quinn
In a Central Queensland caravan park camp kitchen typing with one finger!

David M McLean, Skinny Devil Music Lab and Lexington Music Awards, January 2017

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Image courtesy of David M McLean

David M McLean is yet another of those prolific musical entities that are the engine room of independent music.

You know the sort of person who slogs away in the foreground and background, tirelessly making things happen and ensuring the world is a music-filled and art-filled place to live, breathe, and hear.

A writer, composer, guitarist, producer, teacher, and possibly most front-brain right now, the brains* behind the Lexifest music awards for Lexington, Kentucky.

* Refer to the interview for how the brains and brawn of this event are distributed and attributed.

In 2017, I spoke with David as he sat in his truck with his cell phone somewhere on a cool Lexington KY evening. We spoke so long that my intention was to break the interview into two parts. However, after a series of technical gremlins and many edits later, I’ve whittled this down into the one sound file.

Part of the editing leaves the back end of our chat slamming like a door in a stiff breeze, so apologies for the abruptness.

*** Audio file will be removed by the end of March 2020 ***

*** Audio file will be removed by the end of March 2020 ***

I’m looking forward to hearing about Lexifest 2017, and here’s hoping the blizzards stay away from town in the run-up this year.

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Image courtesy of David M McLean

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